CANCELLED – MCCC Hosts Physicians For Social Responsibility Program On Fracking

Blue Bell, PA— Far from the Marcellus Shale fields of southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia region has largely escaped some of the direct impacts from the exploration, drilling, transportation and waste handling from natural gas operations—commonly referred to as fracking. However, a proposal of an energy hub in Philadelphia and new pipelines headed to the region may bring it closer to home.

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Philadelphia will hold a program at Montgomery County Community College on March 11 at 7 p.m. to review the different operations of fracking, the risks of harm to health, and the exponentially higher releases of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The program, which is free of change and open to the public, will be held in MCCC’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

PSR is a public health, non-profit organization that provides education, training and direct services and advocacy on issues that threaten health and that medicine cannot cure. Andrea Thomas, MCCC alumna and current graduate student in Arcadia University’s Public Health and Medical Science program and PSR intern, will help participants gain a clear understanding of the ways fracking operations can impact health and the environment.

The program is sponsored by MCCC’s Division of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in collaboration with MCCC Diversity Faculty Fellow Natasha Patterson. For information, call 215-641-6445. To learn more about Physicians for Social Responsibility, visit http://www.psr.org.

Pennsylvania House Votes In Favor Of Selling Off State Liquor System

HARRISBURG — The effort to change Pennsylvania’s state liquor monopoly is on a familiar path filled with many obstacles.

The state House voted Thursday to approve turning the wine and liquor retail and wholesale business over to the private sector, but the proposal faces a rough road in the Senate, which failed to take action on a similar proposal in the last session. And Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf favors improving the service in the existing stores to generate more money for the state rather than licensing them to the private sector.

Thursday’s House vote was 114-87 for the proposal, with every Democrat and a few Republicans opposed.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/02/26/House-to-vote-on-Pennsylvania-liquor-privatization-bill/stories/201502260159

What You Need To Know About The Bill To Privatize State Liquor Sales

Legislation to end Pennsylvania’s 82-year monopoly on liquor sales is due for a vote Thursday in the state House.

The plan would dramatically change the way alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 466, sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, is similar to a proposal that cleared the House in 2013. It would close the 600-plus state stores and replace them with 1,200 private licenses.

“In a year when we are faced with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, I personally think it is important to consider avenues for revenue other than taxes,” Turzai said in a memo to colleagues seeking support.

It was estimated last session that the proposal would generate about $1 billion up front, with continued revenue from existing liquor and sale taxes.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-bill-to-privatize/article_a18654d0-bb6b-11e4-bc93-6bbbd42717b0.html

UCLA’s Feinberg To Be Named Geisinger Head

David Feinberg, M.D., chief executive of UCLA Health System, will become the sixth chief executive of Geisinger Health System, claiming the top spot at a medical care network with 23,500 employees that has been lauded as a model in the fast-changing world of health care.

On May 1, Feinberg officially claims the reins of a nonprofit that has greatly expanded its reach and now includes Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township and Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton. The health system now hopes to refocus on improving health care delivery and outcomes.

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Feinberg said he studied Geisinger’s approach for years, hoping to learn and maybe adopt their approaches. But he never imagined leading the system, which he called a dream come true.

“Geisinger is so important to American medicine today,” he said, calling the system one of the first with integrated insurance, facilities and doctors. “American health care is transitioning from a system where we are paid on volume, where more difficult cases result in more costs even as outcomes have not improved by as much. Geisinger has shifted from volume to value by measuring outcomes for patients.”

Read more:

http://citizensvoice.com/news/ucla-s-feinberg-to-be-named-geisinger-head-1.1837860

Pennsylvania Shale Gas Production Eclipsed 4 Trillion Cubic Feet In 2014

Pennsylvania shale drillers produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in the second half of 2014, setting another record despite low prices that have prompted a cutback in activity, the state reported Tuesday.

Producers pulled more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas from shale last year, a 30-percent increase from the year before.

Industry groups applauded the numbers while sounding a cautious tone about what they see as threats to development: depressed prices and a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to impose two new taxes on sales and production.

“This is a tremendous success story – a story about jobs and opportunity,” said Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president for government affairs at America’s Natural Gas Alliance. “We hope the story continues, and that the next few chapters include sensible tax policy and new infrastructure so that Pennsylvania residents can fully benefit from the commonwealth’s abundant natural gas supplies.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7748482-74/based-wells-gas#ixzz3S2v34nob
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Kmart To Close At Schuylkill Mall

FRACKVILLE, PA — Kmart at the Schuylkill Mall will close later this year.

Howard Riefs, director of corporate communications for Sears Holdings, said in an email today the Kmart store will close.

Employees were notified this morning of the closure, he said.

“We did not renew the lease for the Kmart store in the Schuylkill Mall and the store will close to the public in mid-October. Until then, the store will remain open for customers,” Riefs said.

A liquidation sale will begin July 19.

Read more:  http://standardspeaker.com/news/kmart-to-close-at-schuylkill-mall-1.1834328

RadioShack On Brink Of Bankruptcy; Amazon, Sprint In Talks To Buy Stores, Reports Say

RadioShack Corp. is edging toward bankruptcy and both Sprint Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. are interested in buying some of its stores, according to reports.

Under a bankruptcy deal, the century-old electronics retailer would sell about half of its store leases to Sprint Corp., headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, and close the rest, Bloomberg.com reported Monday. The remaining stores would operate with the wireless carrier’s name, meaning RadioShack would cease to exist as a stand-alone retailer.

“Sprint and RadioShack also have discussed co-branding the stores. … It’s also possible that another bidder could emerge that would buy RadioShack and keep it operating,” the report says

Sanpower Group, one of the China-based firms that brought gadget retailer Brookstone out of bankruptcy with the intent of operating it as a stand-alone brand, has expressed interest in RadioShack, too.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/02/radioshack_on_brink_of_bankrup.html

The 10 Best Cities For Millennial Renters – And The Five Worst

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — Chew on this: in much of the country, it is cheaper to own than to rent. Read that again. A RealtyTrac survey of some 473 U.S. counties found that in 68% it is cheaper to buy than to rent. But there is a big exception. In many of the counties that are most attractive to Millennials, renting is significantly cheaper. That makes sense, because, so far, Millennials are shaping up as renters, and they are delaying home purchases.

Per RealtyTrac numbers, in the 25 counties with the biggest jump in Millennial population in the period 2007 to 2013, fair market rental rates for a three bedroom dwelling average 30% of household income. Buying in those markets requires 36% of household income. In some markets, the spreads are even greater. Renting in Hudson County, N.J. – directly across from Manhattan, in Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken, etc. – runs around 33% of median household income. Buying takes a much bigger bite, around 47% of income to purchase a median priced home. Hudson County, by the way, ranks sixth in RealtyTrac’s tally of the places with the biggest influx of Millennials. Millennial population there grew by 35.67% in the 2007 to 2013 period.

Where else exactly are Millennials flocking? And where are they fleeing? Note: it is not cheap just about anywhere. RealtyTrac analysis pegs the average fair market rent in the top 25 counties for Millennials at $1,459. That’s 19% above the national average. But some towns that draw Millennials are dramatically more affordable than many others.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/philly/story/the-10-best-cities-millennial-renters-and-the-five-worst/1?page=1

“Malls Have Been A Dying Thing For Us”: Who’ll Replace RadioShack?

Radio Shack has been trying to close more than 1,000 of its 5,000 stores for the past year; its lenders are resisting; bankruptcy threatens.

Meantime other retailers are weighing whether Radio Shack sites — 29 in Philadelphia and its nearby suburbs, a total of 130 from Wilmington to Princeton, each about 2,000-2,700 sq ft — would make good lunch spots, phone stores, massage salons.

“We have a lease” to take over a Philadelphia-area Radio Shack — he won’t say which, it’s still open — and are negotiating for others in Boston, Atlanta, Miami, and Austin, Tex., Todd Leff, CEO of Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spas, a 200-store franchise chain based in Hamilton Township, N.J., told me.  Hand and Stone says it has 35 locations in the Philadelphia area and South Jersey, and plans up to 15 more. Each store employs 30, including therapists and aestheticians for massage and skin care. Hour-long treatments cost $49-99.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/Malls-have-been-a-dying-thing-for-us-Wholl-replace-RadioShack.html#i6EFp5ErOlAswsiP.99

Philadelphia Region Braces For More Snow

The Philadelphia area is preparing for another round of snow to hit during the night.

The snowfall would be the second the area has seen this week, an unusual occurrence in a winter that’s been nearly snow-free thus far.

The biggest threat appears to be hazardous driving conditions overnight, from around midnight through around 6 a.m. Saturday, with snow, ice and a wintry mix threatening to hit much of eastern Pennsylvania and non-coastal parts of New Jersey.

Transportation officials were gearing up for plowing and salting operations. PennDot was warning motorists that clearing roads during a storm was a time-consuming operation, and drivers should use caution.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150124_Philadelphia_region_braces_for_more_snow.html#oKKHbQdlhTVGVMZ0.99

Wolf Sworn In As Pennsylvania Governor

HARRISBURG – Tom Wolf, a businessman from York, took the oath of office Tuesday as Pennsylvania’s 47th chief executive, proclaiming, “I am an unconventional Governor.”

Wolf, a Democrat who made history by ousting a sitting governor in November’s election, called for “rebuilding the middle class” through a government that partners with business, while stressing his diverse personal background that included running a forklift at his family’s cabinet making business and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer.

“I am not a product of our political system,” said Wolf, not mentioning his stint as revenue secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell or his doctorate in political science from MIT.

Wolf, 66, with his wife, Frances, and daughters Sarah and Kate by his side, was sworn in outside the Capitol on an unusually mild January day, with outgoing Gov. Tom Corbett and former Govs. Ed Rendell, Tom Ridge, and Mark Schweiker looking on, bands playing, and hundreds of cheering supporters lining Commonwealth Avenue.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20150121_It_s_inauguration_day_for_Tom_Wolf.html#klWKeiw1L9WSh06P.99

Tom Wolf’s Agenda: Raise The Minimum Wage To $10.10 An Hour

Tom Wolf, who was elected governor in November, wants to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. Here are five things to know about the issue.

1. Pennsylvania’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

That’s the same rate as the federal minimum wage.

Nationwide, 29 states have a minimum wage above the federal level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

2. Wolf says raising the minimum wage would create jobs.

Wolf’s “Fresh Start” policy plan, released in February 2014, says raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation would raise wages for 20 percent of Pennsylvanians and lead to the creation of 5,000 jobs by 2016.

The plan cites the Economic Policy Institute, which describes itself as dedicated to including “the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions,” as its source for those figures.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/politics/ci_27320709/tom-wolfs-agenda-raise-minimum-wage-10-10

Grand Jury Recommends Criminal Charges Against Attorney General Kathleen Kane

The special prosecutor and grand jury investigating allegations that Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane leaked secret information to a newspaper have found evidence of wrongdoing and recommended that she be criminally charged, according to numerous people familiar with the decision.

The panel concluded that Kane violated grand-jury secrecy rules by leaking investigative material in a bid to embarrass political enemies, sources said.

Some of those familiar with the grand jury presentment say it recommended charges that included perjury and contempt of court.

The statewide grand jury sitting in Norristown has turned over its findings to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, who must decide whether to affirm its findings and arrest Kane, the state’s top law enforcement official.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20150109_Grand_jury_recommends_criminal_charges_against_Attorney_General_Kathleen_Kane.html#IiJzqeSMBdfmvy1f.99

Philadelphia Braces For Mind-Numbing Cold

Philadelphians will wake up Thursday to the winter’s first single-digit day. At 4 a.m. the temperature was expected to plunge to 9 degrees. And AccuWeather was calling for a “Real-Feel” temperature of -14 degrees.

But hang in there.

“It will be getting warmer. Or less cold,” said Gary Szatkowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Mount Holly, N.J. “I don’t know if 37 will feel warm. But it will feel less cold.”

To get to 37 degrees – Sunday’s expected high – the city first needs to bear a high of 20 degrees Thursday, 34 degrees Friday, and 25 degrees Saturday.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150108_Phila__braces_for_mind-numbing_cold.html#75SbwG1JJzQRxZC6.99

Police: Woman Stabs Son On Christmas Eve

A woman arguing with her son at her home in Berwick, Columbia County, said she was going to kill the dog, but instead grabbed a knife and stabbed her son in the chest, police said.

Rachel E. Fallat, 44, of 300 Summerhill Ave., was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated assault and attempted homicide for using a steak knife to lacerate Mark Goodson’s chest, causing severe respiratory distress and a collapsed left lung, Berwick police said.

Goodson was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Medical Center in Plains Township and has since been treated and released, according to hospital officials. Officers interviewed Goodson at the hospital the day of the incident, and he told them he and his mother Wednesday morning had several arguments, some of which became physical.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/police-woman-stabs-son-on-christmas-eve-1.1808606

Pennsylvania Turnpike Considers Plans To Replace Allegheny Tunnels In Somerset County

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has revived plans to replace the Allegheny Tunnels in Somerset County, a project that has been talked about for nearly two decades.

The turnpike commission is considering six options for abandoning the 6,070-foot-long tunnels, longest on the turnpike mainline. Three would involve building new tunnels and three would carve an open highway through the mountain either to the north or south of the existing tunnels.

Preliminary cost estimates for the “cut” options range from $242 million to $345 million, while estimates for the tunnel options range from $537 million to $694 million, according to turnpike consultant L.R. Kimball. Annual maintenance costs for a tunnel would exceed $3 million, several times what an open highway segment would cost.

Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said the cost differential was just one of several factors the commission will consider in choosing a preferred option, possibly in the spring.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2014/12/24/Pennsylvania-Turnpike-considers-plans-to-replace-tunnels-in-Somerset-County/stories/201412230034

Wolf Brings Urban Policy Expertise

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s next governor knows all about distressed cities.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf spent 12 years as president of Better York, a nonprofit bent on revitalizing the city of York. In that role, he worked closely with a nationally prominent urban expert who promotes regional solutions for urban woes.

As he prepares to take office Jan. 20, Wolf said he wants to lead a statewide discussion about how the future of older cities such as Scranton, inner ring suburbs and the surrounding townships are interrelated.

“What I bring to this is a real appreciation for what cities do,” he said in an interview.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wolf-brings-urban-policy-expertise-1.1803039

Labor Department: Marcellus Shale Contractors Owe $4.5 Million In Back Wages

Contractors involved in natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and West Virginia must pay nearly $4.5 million in back wages to more than 5,000 workers, following a two-year U.S. Department of Labor investigation.

“An ongoing multi-year enforcement initiative conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division offices in Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh from 2012 to 2014 found significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which resulted in employers agreeing to pay $4,498,547 in back wages to 5,310 employees,” read a Labor Department statement released on Tuesday.

“It’s part of an ongoing initiative, a multi-year initiative,” said Labor Department spokeswoman Leni Fortson of the Philadelphia office. “These are the findings from the first three years.”

A list of the violating companies can be found attached to this story at http://www.timesleader.com.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50834414/Labor-Department:-Contractors-owe-millions-in-back-wages

Inch Of Snow Possible Tuesday As Temperatures Seesaw

Autumn today, winter tomorrow.

Monday should see afternoon highs of around 57 degrees, which is probably enough to clear away the remaining shreds of snow.

Although unusually warm for the season, the day will be wreathed in clouds, and a midday shower is likely.

But temperatures will drop to 31 Monday night, and that’s where they’ll stay. Tuesday temperatures aren’t expected to climb above 33.

In fact, it’s possible we’ll see up to an inch of snow Tuesday, although less is likely.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/inch-of-snow-possible-tuesday-as-temperatures-seesaw/article_dfffefaa-7953-11e4-a096-af439967278f.html